On the Bright Side
November 10, 2018
The other day a friend sent me an email with "questions that can't be answered" and some of them made me laugh out loud. Like the first one:
Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze those dangly things there, and drink whatever comes out?"
I've often wondered about things like that. We take milk from cows for granted, but someone, somewhere, had to be the first person to milk a cow, and that's the sort of thing that's never in the history books. I wish it was. I would like to know what the circumstances were and what went through that first person's mind when he or she decided to pull "those dangly things" and see what came out.
Of course, the idea of food and medicines from plants or animals brings up all sorts of questions: why did someone think it might be a good idea to break and egg and fry it? Or boil it with the shell still on? So many things taste like chicken – why doesn't a chicken egg taste like chicken?
Who first thought to pull apart an aloe vera plant and squeeze the juice out and put it on a burn – why would the first person have come up with that? Or how did someone accidentally discover it worked?
It's fun to wonder about things like that. And things like this: Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat? No one uses that setting, at least not on purpose. It does seem that a toaster should toast, and perhaps the machine should be called something else – like a burner or a crisper – if it does something else. But then why those little appliances have that setting in the first place, when no one really wants uneatable black toast anyway, is a puzzlement.
Another one of the questions that struck my fancy: Why do people point at their wrist when asking for the time, but they don't point to their crotch when they ask where the bathroom is? Another good question and an interesting observation; and one that suggests how much more entertaining life could be if we were more consistent.
Here are some of the other questions for which we have no answers:
If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?
Is Disney World the only people trap operated by a mouse?
If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about it?
Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?
If love is blind, how can there be love at first sight?
Why do we say the alarm clock is going off when it is actually turning on?
Why are they called "stairs" inside but "steps" outside?
Why is cargo transported by ship while shipments are transported by car?
And, I enjoyed this dog-related question, as I think most dog people will: Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?
And my favorite dog question: Why do they call it getting your dog fixed if afterward it doesn't work anymore?
All good questions, all with basically no answers. If you think you can answer some of them, I'd love to hear from you (even if you have to make something up). Until then, I think I'm going to just be happy knowing that maybe there will always be some things that will forever remain a mystery.
© Copyright 2018 Mel White, Tehachapi writer and photographer and co-owner of Tehachapi Treasure Trove, has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996 (and looking for elusive answers since 1948). She welcomes your comments at [email protected]